Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

October 4, 2013

‘Things got pretty weird after that’

By JAMES BROWN
Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — The whole federal government is on vacation. Anyone who does business with the federal government should take a vacation from paying taxes. They should all refuse to be good citizens who obey the laws of the land that requires they do their due diligence by supporting the good federal programs with their hard-earned cash. (This is my anarchistic approach to how we citizens should respond to the partial shutdown of our nation’s government. I am being flippant about the situation because the debate has become so absurd. The only way to respond to absurdity is with absurdity. The surrealists understood this. On the wall in my office is a comic strip by Grant Snider that I found online. The comic is divided into three subject segments and each segment contains a vertical panel and a horizontal panel. In the first vertical panel, a young man sits on a green hill as a butterfly flutters by. It reads, “When I was young, I was an idealist.” The accompanying horizontal panel shows the young man walking in a beautiful green park with trees, a stream and someone flying a kite. It reads, “I found beauty, wonder and meaning everywhere I looked.” The next segment’s vertical panel has a man wearing a tie and standing in a stark room, a fly flits through the scene. It reads, “When I got older, I became a realist.” The adjacent horizontal panel shows a man walking across and overpass, carrying a briefcase. There is a city scene with billboards, a traffic jam and general city detritus like broken bottles and graffiti. It reads, “I saw a world of rough edges and difficult truths.” The next segment’s vertical panel reads, “This grew tiresome. I decided to be a surrealist.” The man is dressed in gray and wears a top hat. What looks like a dragonfly is pictured. The adjacent horizontal panel has a Salvidor Dali scene and reads, “Things got pretty weird after that.” That series of panels describes our political scene effectively for me.)

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This past week after the federal government partially shutdown, World War II veterans were still being flown to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorial for WWII. There were barricades in place because all such attractions are supposed to be closed during the shutdown, just like Mammoth Cave National Park locally.

The visitors simply pushed the barricades aside and went onto the memorial property. The park’s department employees, following the orders of their bosses who follow the orders of their bosses who eventually work for those people who have chosen to shut down the federal government because none of them can sit down together and work through their ideological differences, were attempting to not allow the visitors to visit the sites because that was their jobs. This led to a most ridiculous confrontation where  Randy Neugebauer, a Republican congressman from West Texas, wanted to visit the WWII memorial, but was denied entry by a park ranger. Neugebauer was outraged and told the ranger she should be ashamed of herself for not letting visitors into the memorial site. The park service had agreed to allow actual World War II veterans into the memorial, but run-of-the-mill visitors had to wait outside. Neugebauer was deemed run-of-the-mill, apparently, by the ranger. This did not sit well with him.

For those who have seen the video footage of the exchange between the congressman and the park ranger likely have concluded the surreal nature of it. A person who apparently is in favor of the government shutdown did not know it would mean national parks and memorials would be shut down. Then, believes it is the employee’s fault and that the employee should be ashamed of doing their job. Pause on that thought.

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I leave you with a sport we could love in Kentucky:

STAVANGER, Norway — In its latest experiment with live coverage of mundane events, Norway’s publicbroadcasting network plans to dedicate five hours of air-time to an attempt to break the knitting world record.

The NRK network says the Nov. 1 broadcast will be preceded by a four-hour documentary on how the wool off a sheep’s back turns into a sweater.

NRK producer Rune Moeklebust said Friday that “it’s kind of ordinary TV, but very slow, although they’ll be knitting as fast as they can.”

The Norwegians hope to break the current non-stop knitting record of 4 hours 50 minutes, held by Australia.

Live TV in Norway has already enticed viewers with minute-by-minute salmon fishing, a five-day broadcast from a cruise ship, and several hours of watching a fire burn itself out.

James Brown is editor for the Glasgow Daily Times. He can be contacted by e-mail at jbrown@glasgowdailytimes.com.